The Community and the Individual Exploration

The community of a society, such as the ones of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, etc., is made up of a variety individuals. The community itself plays a significant role in the lives of the individuals. The individuals are affected by the shops within the community, the land that makes up the community, and even those that make up the community. In this group of people that make up the community, there are also those that try to make a difference in the community they live in. These people would do things such as help out in homeless shelters, pick up trash at the beach, do car washes to have the funds donated to some sort of organization that helps others, etc. The idea that one person can make a difference within his or her respective community sounds highly improbable, but there have been many stories told in the news of these people that have made a difference. Both the community and the individuals that make it up can affect each other in various. Many works of literature include this idea of mutual change between the individual and the community.

In the beginning of the book, The Scarlet Letter, the main character, Hester Prynne, faces humiliation due to her actions. She is found out to be guilty of adultery and is sentenced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest for the rest of her life and she is to stand on a scaffold so everyone in the community can see her. She is then ridiculed and bad rumors are spread about her. This starts affecting her as she becomes secluded in her home with little contact with others. The community has influenced Hester in a negative way. The children making fun of her and the women that make rude comments about her have made an impact on her life. Further into the book, seven years have passed between the day Hester stood on the scaffold and now. Hester has grown older and wiser over the years. She does not resent the community that has humiliated her in the past. In fact, she goes out of her way to help the same community. She begins to do volunteer work at the church. She helps both the sick and the elderly. People now began making comments about how Hester is a saint or an angel. She is praised by that same community that she suffered from. Hester is now affecting the community by helping those in need and by doing so, she changes the opinions of others around her. Many books toss around this idea, but papers in other areas have done so as well.

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, he talks about how he himself was affected by events that happened  in another place. In his letter, King states, “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” In these sentences, explains that he is affected by what is happening in Birmingham while he is in Atlanta. The community of another area can affect individuals as well, even if they are not in it. In Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood”, he talked about how his life was affected by his parents’ Spanish, and his parents’ social status in America. These attributes in his life slowed his social growth which made him feel left out or not a part of the community he lived in. In it, he states that, “Memory teaches me what I know of these matters; the boy reminds the adult. I was a bilingual child, a certain kind-socially disadvantaged_the son of working-class parents, both Mexican immigrants.” He understands that the community that is made up of his family affected him to the point where he cannot interact with other communities. Just like the works of authors, recent news have also done well to express the idea of the community and the individual affecting each other.

In Somersworth, New Hampshire, there were groups of boy scouts and girl scouts that helped collect over 2,500 pounds of food for the Community Food Pantry. The Community Food Pantry donates food to families that can’t afford to buy much. The boys and girls that make up the community of the boy and girl scouts are affecting the community that is the Community Food Pantry which affects communities of families. These individuals are making a difference in the society that is Somersworth. Samaritan’s Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides care and aid to those who need it. This organization has an event called Operation Christmas Child. In this event, the people of this organization and those who want to help fill up shoe boxes full of toys and ship them to families all over the world that can’t afford to pay for Christmas presents. This group has provided toys to over 150 million children all over the world. This community helps out other communities all around the world.

These works of literature have the idea of the community and the individual affecting each other intertwined in them. From the book, the Scarlet Letter, to Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter, they have this idea implanted within them. Both the community and the individual can affect each other in various ways. Communities can even affect other communities. It all depends on what the people the live in them do.


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